Appalachian Trail: Newfound Gap to Fontana Lake is a 38.3 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

38.3 miles
8,077 feet
Point to Point




nature trips

trail running





wild flowers



no dogs

In the very dry periods the springs at Russell Field and Mollies Ridge Shelters can dry up. The implications of making extended winter hikes at these elevations can't be overstated. If you are not experienced in winter backpacking, this is not recommended.

4 months ago

I've hiked a lot of the GSMNP in the past so this time I decided to hike the entire park in one trip. We started at Fontana Dam and hiked through to Carvers Gap on the AT. The entire trip was 72 miles and took 6 days. This trail was the first leg and took 3 days at which time we caught a ride into Gatlinburg to resupply.
Doing this part of the AT from south to north means a lot of up hill climbing, some of it quite challenging, but the views are worth it a million times over. We did the hike in late Winter and had very cold temps (10* F) with lots of snow and ice. I wish we had gotten cramp-on's for our boots because that would have helped with the ice conditions. That time of year the trail is prone to freeze/thaw conditions each day which means you're walking in slush during the day and slippery ice in late day and night.
My favorite summit was Rocky Top on Thunderhead Mountain. It's a small rocky area that gives you amazing 360* views. The Shuckstack lookout tower just a few miles north of Fontana Dam on the AT is worth the time to check out too.
I would have rated this hike 5 stars if the park would let you tent camp at the shelters or anywhere on the AT but they don't, so I didn't.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the true natural wonders of the American Southeast. The park here is expansive, and there are more sights to see than the average adventurer could soak up in a lifetime.

I was a part of a group of three that completed the Appalachian Trail through the park in May of 2016. The hike was challenging due to the distance, the weather and the elevation changes we experienced during the eight day hike.

The trip resonated so profoundly with me that I even wrote a book about the experience. My retelling of the story and experiences in the park are better suited for print. The book can be purchased on Amazon:

Needless to say, this trip was a monumental experience.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Spent an hour writing a detailed summary of the hike, hit the wrong button and erased it...
So ill just say this. Its a great hike for people that have at least some experience with multi-night backpacking. Not really good if youve never been because once you are done with your first day, cutting it short for any reason is going to be very difficult.
If youre experienced this is a 3 day hike. The best shelters to use are Mollies Ridge to Silers Bald. This means your mileage per day will be 10-17-13. The 17 is not as bad as it sounds, a little extra 2nd day so that you dont die the 3rd day.